DDO condo associations lose out to Hydro-Québec’s ‘right of way’ policy

By Kevin Woodhouse

Since last week, representatives of the Glenview Green and Sunnybrooke Village Condominium Associations have been trying to reach an agreement with Hydro Québec to preserve a large number of old growth trees but to no avail.

The provincial electrical company did meet with the two associations Monday morning but Hydro Québec’s “right of way” policy trumps private property owners so as many as 40-50 old growth trees will be cut shortly, much to the dismay of the condo associations.

“We wonder why the need to cut all of the trees down now,” said Beatriz Polanski, secretary for the board of administration for Glenview Green. “We asked why the need to cut down all of the trees this year as it was never a problem before.

“Trees are everybody’s concern as they add beauty and value for the residents,” Polanski told The Suburban.

Polanski and Luis Mannucci of Sunnybrook Village met with Hydro Québec officials hoping for at least some concessions such as having Hydro Québec pay for replanting new trees in place of those slated to be taken down or trimming the trees in lieu of cutting them down outright but to no avail.

“We have an obligation at Hydro Québec to handle vegetation control,” said Hydro Québec spokesperson Jean-Philippe Rousseau. “We do this to ensure the safety of the public, our personnel and to prevent outages.”

Rousseau noted that the trees beside the two condo projects have to be cut back because of their relative size and proximity to transmission lines that carry as much as 315,000 volts.

“Trees do not even have to touch the transmissions in order for the electricity to jump to the ground,” said Rousseau noting that a downed transmission line affects thousands of residential and business customers.

And because the land falls within Hydro Québec’s “right of way” policy, the electric company has to maintain a safe distance around its transmission and power lines.

“If there is a known risk then it requires concrete action although it is not our policy to eliminate all vegetation in the area but those in danger of being too tall,” Rousseau told The Suburban.

DDO Councillor Alex Bottausci agreed with the condo associations that perhaps doing the work in staggered form would give the city a chance to replant newer vegetation.

“We asked if Hydro Québec would replace the trees but were told that was not in their budget,” said Bottausci. “Some of the trees are ash trees and because of the danger of the EAB (Emerald Ash Borer), it was recommended that they come down.”

Rousseau suggests that landowners who share a “right of way” with Hydro Québec check with the electrical company “to find out what kind of landscaping has been okayed near transmission lines. Other communities have created parks, bike paths and community gardens under power lines.”
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